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Unemployment in SA’s Major Cities


Introduction

StatsSA has recently released 2019 Q2 unemployment figures, which show alarming rates of unemployment last seen in 2003. In order to guide our actions in tackling this issue, it is important to understand the profile of the working aged in cities, and then zoom further into Durban’s unique profile.


What is the employment profile of 15 – 64 year olds?

Average employment profile of the working aged across SA’s major cities

• More than half (52%) of all working aged people in four of South Africa’s major cities (Johannesburg, Cape Town, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane), are employed.

• Almost a quarter (24%) are unemployed and looking, meaning that they still believe that they have hope of finding employment (including self-employment).

• 25% are not economically active, and only 3% have given up hope of finding a job.

• These are average results over four quarters from 2018 Q3 to 2019 Q2.

Profile of SA Major Cities’ 15-64 Year Olds (Less EThekwini) Q3 2018 - Q2 2019
Source: IHS, 2019


Average employment profile of Durban’s working aged population

• Durban’s profile is slightly different; there appear to be less employed people per capita than in other cities. 48% of the working aged are employed, compared to 52% in other major cities.

• There are also more than twice the number of discouraged work seekers than in other cities (7% compared to 3%).

• There are more working aged people who chose not to or cannot join the labour-market. Almost a third (32%) of all working aged people in Durban are not economically active, compared to only a quarter (24%) in other major cities.

• These are average results over four quarters from 2018 Q3 to 2019 Q2.

Profile of Durban’s 15-64 Year Olds Q3 2018 - Q2 2019
Source: IHS, 2019


Today’s employment profile of the working aged across SA’s major cities

• When looking the QLFS’s most recent results (2019 Q2 only) the situation has worsened.

• 1% less working aged people are employed in four of South Africa’s five major cities (Johannesburg, Cape Town, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane).

• The number of unemployed people actively looking for work has decreased by 4%

• The number of people who are not economically active, has increased by 1%

• The proportion of discouraged work seekers have stayed the same (3% of all working aged people).

• The loss in employed people is not fully accounted for, however, there is still a smaller proportion of people earning an income in South Africa’s major cities.

SA Cities Average (Less EThekwini) Q2 2019
Source: IHS, 2019


Today’s employment profile of Durban’s working aged population

• Also looking the QLFS’s most recent results (2019 Q2 only) the situation in Durban is similar, but worse than other cities.

• 1% (18 000 people) less working aged people are employed in Durban.

• The proportion of unemployed people actively looking for work has remained the same, at 13% (although the number has decreased). There is a significantly smaller proportion of people actively looking for work in Durban, compared to other major cities (13% vs. 20%).

• The proportion of people that have given up hope of finding a job in Durban, has increased by 1% (or 19 000 people) more than the annual average.

Profile of Durban’s 15-64 Year Olds Q2 2019
Source: IHS, 2019



Conclusion

• While the major increase in unemployment in the country is of concern, an additional issue for Durban is the City’s lagging employment profile compared to the country’s four other major metros.

• Durban employs a smaller proportion of people, has a lower percentage of people actively look for work, a higher proportion of people have lost hope of finding a job, and there is a higher percentage of people that are not economically active.

• An understanding of the reasons for these key issues will guide effective solutions.

• It may be that there are less employment opportunities in Durban. This would mean that the primary solution is an increase in investment.

• It could also be that enough employment opportunities are available, however there is a skills mismatch in Durban’s working aged population. This would mean that the primary solution lies in skills development.

• It could be that both are required simultaneously, however, considering limited resources, it is important to understand which of these issues are most pressing, in the Durban context.

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